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April is “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in New York

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in New York State with Governor Kathy Hochul issuing a proclamation that coincided with the State Office of Children and Family Services hosting its annual ‘pinwheel planting’ event in Huyck Park in the city of Rensselaer to raise awareness and highlight the need for all New Yorkers to do their part to keep children safe from abuse and maltreatment.

This year’s theme for the month is ‘Family Strengthening and Support,’ highlighting how OCFS and other State agencies have collaborated with their community partners to develop bold new evidence-based initiatives designed to protect children and help families thrive. OCFS commemorated the month by planting pinwheels -the national symbol for a childhood free of fear and trauma – nearby the agency’s offices in Rensselaer.

“All children deserve a warm and supportive environment to grow that is free from maltreatment and abuse,” Governor Hochul said. “As we begin Child Abuse Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all must do our part to keep New York’s children safe. By working together and investing in upstream prevention programs, we can ensure children in our state will reach their full potential.”

Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “Our young people are the most precious, yet vulnerable, members of our communities. They need to feel loved, protected, and never afraid of being hurt, in many instances by those they should be able to trust. OCFS understands that we can’t solve this issue by simply addressing abuse after it’s uncovered. By connecting families with community-based, culturally responsive resources, we increase the likelihood that children will be raised in a safe and nurturing environment free of stress and trauma.”

OCFS also expanded Healthy Families NY, an intensive, voluntary in-home visiting program offering family services in partnership with non-profit community-based organizations, to all 62 counties in New York including the five boroughs of New York City.

In addition, OCFS has established the HEARS Family Line, which is designed to connect families to community resources offering help with housing, food, health care and more. The line is available for all New Yorkers and can be reached at 1-888-55HEARS (1-888-554-3277) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is available in 12 languages.

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